Group projects or assignments can be a nightmare for everyone in the group, especially the group leader. Unfortunately, you cannot wish away group projects in college.
You have to make things work amongst each other if you’re to ace a particular project. With this goal in mind below are tips on how to ace your group projects in college.
#1. Pick your group members smartly
Having the right group members is the first step toward acing your group projects in college. If you have the luxury of picking your group members, pick them early lest you end up with an awkward group.
Picking up members you’ve worked with before would also be a great idea because it makes things predictable and ultimately easy.
You’ll be somehow disadvantaged if your professor has already picked the group members. In this case, just have to suck it up and work with who’s there.
#2. Set clear goals
Just like with any real-world project, you need to set clear goals before starting the college group project. The first group meeting should be used to lay some ground rules and set the specific goals to be achieved at the end of the project.
In this meeting, you should set a communications channel, the frequency of meetings, and who will be the group leader. You can also touch on the platform (Google Docs or shared emails with each other) on which you’ll host the project.
If you can cover it all in one meeting – you can always schedule other issues for a later meeting. The key is to have a working schedule and stick to it to the end.
#3. Learn each member’s strengths
The main reason why group work is important is to benefit from each member’s strengths. Before you start the group work online, have an open discussion about each member’s strengths.
Some people’s strengths are in research, ideation, and writing. Others do better in formatting, while others thrive in presentation.
Knowing who is good at a particular thing will give you an idea of how to distribute the individual responsibilities.
#4. Delegate the tasks
Based on each member’s strengths and with mutual consent, distribute the tasks to all the group members.
Ensure everyone is accommodated depending on their tasks and their schedules. Every group member should be accountable and finish their part of the group work on time.
#5. Get a project management tool
Sending emails with the project’s attachments is better than exchanging written notes. Having this project management tool ensures everyone is reading from the same script.
Other tools like Trello, Slack, and Asana can be great for seamless delegation of tasks and assignments, especially for large groups.
#6. Have mini-deadlines for the group project
Having mini-deadlines for group work online is a good way to beat procrastination. You don’t want people sending you (the group leader or project manager) a halfway done project at 11:58 pm when the turn-in time is midnight.
The group leader or the group’s project manager should have everyone’s part of the project before the turn-in time.
This ensures there’s enough time to put the project together and still have time to make corrections if any before the turn-in time.
#7. Have a conflict resolution strategy
Whenever people are working together, especially under pressure – conflicts are bound to arise. So how would you handle conflict during a group project in college?
If you can’t figure it out amongst yourselves, it’s always a good idea to find a third party to mediate the conflict resolution process.
In a college setting, the person you should consult is your professor. They’ll always be glad to help because they probably already know each of their student’s strengths and weaknesses.
However, don’t leave it to the last minute to seek conflict resolution. Deal with any issues as soon as they arise.
And they will arise because one of the objectives of group projects is to get people to work together despite their differences.
#8. Have a proper communication channel
Without proper communication channels, a group in any setting including college would fail to achieve any goal.
For example, if you let each group member choose their preferred task – two people may jump on one task. A group leader will need to set a proper communication channel to ensure such conflicts don’t arise.
The best way is by negotiating with each member and then communicating to each of them what to do and why they’d be the best for that particular task.
You can do this on a group chat on your preferred messenger platform. But you’ll have to ensure every member is on the platform first.
#9. Communicate regularly
The new-age apps have made it easier to communicate when working on group projects in college.
Skype, Google Hangouts, Zoom Meetings, Facebook Messenger, or even WhatsApp make it easier to ‘meet’ to know each one’s progress.
Collaboration tools like Google Docs allow different users to work on the same file. Dropbox also comes in handy to provide cloud storage for the group’s college projects.
#10. Don’t divide the writing task
Dividing the writing of the final report may sound like a nice idea but it poses many challenges.
They’ll be no flow because people have different styles and tones when writing anything. Such inconsistency can make a well-researched report look poor even when it deserves the best grade.
Delegate the task of compiling information from different members into one document to one person who’s known for good writing.
Even better, you can arrange a session where the person writes while all members are present. Here, they can clarify some points for a far much better document.
Wrapping it up
Not only do college group projects improve your academic skills, but they also test your interpersonal skills. Working in group projects in college also tests how well you can work as a team player.
Acing your group projects in college will determine how well you handle real-life group problems and solutions. Therefore, pick as many lessons as possible from your group members and your interactions.
What has your experience with group projects been so far? Let us know in the comments section.